ECA calls Budget 2018 "fairly balanced"
The Employers Consultative Association (ECA) says in general, the budget was fairly balanced with a mix of austerity measures and incentives.
The ECA in a media release says the Government must, therefore, be commended for achieving a reduction in the budget deficit; it says this is certainly a move in the right direction.
The ECA further stated that it recognises that the circumstances require not only tough decisions by the Government, but, more importantly, it requires a renewed collective effort by all social partners towards the transformation of the present and future socio-economic realities.
It says the time has come for behavioural changes towards improving productivity, competitiveness and work ethic.
However, the ECA says it is concerned about the relative impact that the new proposed taxes will have on the cost of doing business, especially the increased corporation tax base from 25 percent to 30 percent, new 35 percent tax on commercial banks, increased taxes on tyres and imported vehicles, and increases in fuel prices.
It adds that with an already difficult economic environment and limited access to foreign exchange for business transaction, we must not lose sight of the fact that a financially profitable private sector is generally acknowledged as an engine of growth for most economies around the world.
However, the ECA says it is encouraged by the proposed support measures announced for motivating and encouraging greater levels of entrepreneurial activities, small business development and export promotion.
It says this can lead to the retention of jobs and the creation of new jobs, which influences wages and ultimately the standard of living for citizens and their families.
The ECA says increases in commerce will also benefit the Government’s coffers and provide a foundation for creating more opportunities for business expansion and social programmes for the less fortunate.
In addition, it says it must be ensured that increased taxes are introduced with commensurate improvements in tax collection and enforcement mechanisms.
In this regard, the ECA says it is optimistic that, having been promised in the last fiscal package, that legislation for the new Revenue Authority will be fast-tracked to ensure that an appropriate infrastructure is in place to widen the tax base.
It adds that a very important point to which the Minister alluded was that of continuous dialogue among the social partners.
The ECA says it believes that social dialogue is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal in this collective effort to recover, survive and thrive.
It says such a process has proven to be effective in many other jurisdictions with similar circumstances and believes that the country stands to benefit greatly from continued dialogue.